Text and Story in Solaro

August 11th, 2010| Posted by Andy Korth
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One thing we’ve been focusing on while creating Solaro is to tell a story without large paragraphs of text. While there’s no denying that a rich world can be created with just text- but it’s not the experience people are looking for in this sort of game.

Our goal instead is to use small amounts of text and to shape the world around the quests instead.  Psychochild summarizes the problem nicely in his blog post:

  • Many players say they want an engaging story.
  • Most players skip the boring text anyway.
  • Reality dictates that quest text will be limited.

The point Psychochild makes in his post is that players don’t know what they actually want. This is 90% correct- but I’d rather say that players know what they want, but they have the wrong idea of how to get it. More (or even better) quest text is an obvious solution, since it stares you straight in the face. This is especially in games like WoW, where the quest text is 99% of what makes collecting boar snouts different from collecting murloc eyes. So let us step back from the traditional quest “text description, action, text and reward” model.

Often, showing is better than telling.  The downside, of course, is that doing anything other than blocks of text becomes a lot more work- especially where art comes in to play; that’s been our traditional weakness.

So far, we’ve had good luck with custom scripting on our quests. Since you’re doing something reasonably different on each quest, they feel very unique. There’s more variety than changing a block of text can provide. (We’ll also won’t have 8393 quests, which is the current quest count in WoW) This is also playing towards our personal strengths. It’s easier for Scott and me to script something interesting than to make art or elaborate text stories.

  1. Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green
    August 12th, 2010 at 12:29
    Reply | Quote | #1

    No, players generally do not know what they want until they are given it. A great talk demonstrating this, relating to spaghetti sauce, can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

    The upshot (heh) is that people didn’t know they wanted “chunky spaghetti sauce” until someone offered it on the market. Once it was offered, people *loved* it and it sold great. Before it was offered, people would simply say they wanted variations on existing products.

    The toughest (but probably most rewarding) job of a game designer is giving players what they don’t even know what they want. It’s always easier to clone an existing game, as evidenced by the games available out there. But, the biggest hits that “came out of nowhere” were the ones that scratched an itch that people just didn’t know they had. On the flipside, the biggest flops were ones that predicted poorly.

    At any rate, good luck with your game. If you need MMO advice, feel free to drop me a line. 🙂

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